One Question

One Question for City Council Member Tim Burgess

By Erica C. Barnett October 25, 2012


As we reported yesterday, city council members were skeptical of Mayor Mike McGinn's proposal to station camera-mounted, gunshot-locating robots around the city, noting that the machines are expensive, that they haven't been proven to reduce gun violence or deter crime, and that civil-liberties proponents are sure to raise issues about a 24-hour, city-run video surveillance program.

Today, we asked city council member Tim Burgess—a potential candidate against McGinn next year—what he thought of the proposal, and whether he expected the council to move it forward.I have not seen any evidence that the systems achieve either of these outcomes.—City Council member Tim Burgess

Here's what Burgess had to say:

The gunshot locator system is interesting, certainly high tech, but there are questions about what it actually gets us. These systems are relatively new in the civilian world; they were originally developed for the U. S. military to assist with targeting decisions.

We have only found one independent, peer reviewed study on the effectiveness of the systems and that was not very favorable. All of the other suggestions that the systems work come from the manufacturers or anecdotal stories. For me, the system might be justified if it could be shown to (1) reduce gun violence and (2) result in increased apprehensions of gun violence offenders. I have not seen any evidence that the systems achieve either of these outcomes.

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